First Stop in the Summer of Gortat: Camp with Otto in Rumia | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

First Stop in the Summer of Gortat: Camp with Otto in Rumia

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Updated: July 10, 2015

[Ed. Note: Bartosz Bielecki is TAI’s Polish correspondent. A student in his early-20s, Bart covers all things Marcin Gortat from the mother country, including transcribing Gortat interviews with Polish media (which are classic, by the way) and, this year, covering Gortat’s basketball camp from the ground. Bart once wrote-in Paul Pierce on the Polish presidential ballot. Check out his previous work on TAI.]

Bart and Gortat

[Marcin Gortat and Bartosz Bielecki listen in on Otto Porter’s media session.]

Another Summer of Gortat has officially begun. On Thursday in Rumia, a small city in northern Poland, Gortat started his series of annual camps. As usual, he brought some guests from the States, as well as a number of Polish players, to help counsel campers and teach them some basketball. Gortat’s entourage included fellow Wizard Otto Porter, Jr. and his friend from St. Louis Bobby Hatchett; Washington Wizards Assistant Coach Pat Sullivan; hopefully the next Polish player in the NBA, Przemek Karnowski (entering his senior season at Gonzaga University); Adam Waczyński, starting forward for the Polish National Team, who spent last season in the Spanish ACB League; and Marcin Stefański and Marcin Dutkiewicz from a Polish team, Trefl Sopot. There was one more special guest at the camp in Rumia. For the first time in the history, an NBA team mascot flew to Poland: the one and only G-Wiz (along with his alter-ego, G-Man).

When I entered the small gym in Rumia to cover the event, the court was full of countless kids dribbling equally countless basketballs. But then the chaos suddenly stopped. The children took a seat around center court and at exactly 11 a.m., their idol, Marcin Gortat, made his entrance (followed by G-Wiz)…

Marcin introduced his guests—and couldn’t resist trolling Otto in the process, saying, “I hope he won’t fall asleep here. I think you saw that play… I was yelling at him. But at least he won the Shaqtin’-A-Fool MVP!”

Porter, for his part, was a good sport and all smiles once the stretching routine started, joining the children in their efforts. Gortat praised the wingman for his efforts, randomly saying  “Good job, Otto!” every now and then. But Porter refused to continue when Gortat came up with this exercise:

stretch

“He just hates this exercise, he always refuses to do it when we stretch together,” Gortat explained. “We spend a lot of time together, because I often warm up and stretch with him.”

Later, when asked by one of the kids, Gortat added that Porter is definitely one of his best friends on the team and that he is the teammate he spends the most time with. Gortat also talked about the third-year swingman signing a much more lucrative contract in the future: “Otto is an extremely talented young man, who has a great feel for the game, knows how to get offensive rebounds and plays solid defense. He is also very bright and intelligent.”

The kids who were accepted to Gortat’s camp had an opportunity to compete against the Polish Machine and other camp coaches. Marcin’s crew competed against groups of children in various shooting contests. After winning against the first three groups of children, Gortat decided to set the bar a little higher for the professionals before the final round and announced that his team will be shooting from 3-point range, while the kids remained in the midrange. The first team to make seven baskets was the winner. Here’s the competition. The video starts when the score is 1:1.

The punishment for losing the shooting contest was push-ups. Even though Porter was on the winning team, Otto decided to do some anyway. Near the end of  the camp, Porter decided to have some fun playing  against one of the kids. Unfortunately for Otto, it led to yet another “NBA Player Gets Scored On by a Little Kid” video (and it was funny enough that you can hear me laughing about it at the end of the video). Here it is:

The camp was a great opportunity for the kids to meet NBA players. But not just the kids. Every player was also available for five minutes to the media. Strangely, but fortunately for me, there wasn’t much interest in Otto Porter, and after a couple of questions from the journalists, Porter’s presser basically turned into a one-on-one conversation.

Here’s some of our Q&A:

On playing in the starting line-up, and what position he will play:

“My position is the small forward, but it’s whatever the coach puts me in, whether that’s a small forward, power forward, or a two-guard … wherever he feels comfortable. I’m just happy to play with guys like Marcin Gortat in the starting line-up.”

On Kelly Oubre Jr.:

“I haven’t really seen him play that much. I will when I get back. What I heard is he’s a good shooter to space the floor, athletic…”

On how it happened that he came to Poland:

“Actually, Marcin got traded to Washington during my rookie season, and that was like the best thing that could happen to me, having a guy like Gortat as my veteran. He took me under his wing, showed me the ways in the NBA, how everything works, and showed me hard work. I’m just honored to be here to help him with his camp. We’re getting that much closer, and it’s gonna help on the court.”

On stepping his game up last playoffs:  

“That’s the least I can do for the guys like Gortat. What they want me to do, that’s what I wanna do. I just wanna play my all. Gortat talked to me like, ‘We need you to play defense’ and that’s what I took to the heart.”


[VIDEO: Otto’s full presser.]



At the end of the camp
, I got an opportunity to do an exclusive interview with the young Wizards wing. Unfortunately, we only got to cover two questions before Otto had to join Marcin in signing player cards and basketballs for the kids. Here is what he managed to tell me:

Bartosz Bielecki: Do you still expect your minutes to grow next year, despite the Wizards having a much deeper wingman rotation?

Otto Porter: We definitely added great pieces, we added three good shooters that spot-up, that can space the floor for John, myself, and Brad … space the floor for Gortat. We can play smaller with these kind of lineups. Jared Dudley can space the floor for us, he can shoot the 3. Anderson can play shooting guard or small forward. We got guys who can play different positions, which allows us to be more flexible, stretch out the floor, and it should work out well.

BB: Wizards are left with one roster spot open. What position do you think they should go for?

OP: We don’t have a big man, so that’s the option, but I really don’t know.

[Ed. Note: the Wizards have since re-signed Drew Gooden, big man, to a one-year, $3.3 million contract.]

Obviously the camp also featured Marcin Gortat’s press conference. We got to know that Pat Sullivan, who was attending his second straight Gortat Camp, wanted to come back to Poland so badly that he kept on asking Gortat if he could come this year, too.

“I think Otto is enjoying Poland right now too,” Marcin said of Porter, who landed in the country just a day before. “He was tired yesterday, but now I think he likes it here. You can see he’s very polite, always smiling. He’s a very intelligent guy with a very bright future in the NBA. He came here because he didn’t have to play in summer league anymore, and he’s not a veteran who needs time to rest. He doesn’t have a wife or a kid.

“It’s tough to bring over a player who has a big role on our team, who has a family and kids, during the vacations. Such players won’t give up their family time to spend two weeks in Poland, so I’m grateful Otto came here, as it really isn’t easy to find a player willing to come here.”

As a camp newbie, Otto doesn’t have any rookie duties. “We’re trying to keep him happy, and make sure he has a really good time over here,” Gortat said.

Gortat also spoke his mind about the Wizards’ offseason. He said that the Wizards will shoot more 3-pointers, which will provide more space for him in the post. He stressed, though, that it’s not the end of the Wizards’ offseason moves: “I hope it’s not.”

Gortat also touched upon his chemistry with Nene:

“We’re the same kind of players, we tried to play alongside each other, but it got more and more cumbersome over time. The teams also figured out a way to play against us.”

At the end of the camp, it was time for young entrants of basketball to ask questions. The first question asked was about Gortat’s height. The second was about his salary. The Polish Machine also gave the youngsters a piece of advice. He said that the first step to the NBA is to work hard every day: “Get up at six in the morning and go work out. Work out when there is no publicity, when nobody knows about it. Be determined to work hard when all your friends spend their days at home, playing video games.”

Gortat’s speech resulted in a huge cheer from the parents in the stands. His mention of video games led to a question whether he plays NBA video games from time to time. The answer?

“I never play with myself, because they’re cheating me there. I hate NBA video games, I prefer to play some shooting and action games.”

Makes sense, keeping in mind Gortat’s love of all things military-related. He also stated that if he weren’t a basketball player, he would be a professional soldier. The final question to Marcin was about his favorite NBA player. Turns out it’s Kevin Garnett.

“He yells at you all the time during the game, he hits you in a way the referees don’t always see, but after the game he is very nice and respectful,” Gortat justified.

Porter was also asked some questions by the kids. The kids wanted to know who his favorite WNBA player was (Maya Moore), how long will he play in the NBA (“As long as I can.”), and why Paul Pierce left the Wizards. As for the last one, Otto explained that such was his option in the contract, and that “The Truth” really wanted to go home at the end of his career.

And that was it. With the first camp behind us, there are several stops left in Gortat’s tour around Poland. The finale of Gortat Camp 2015 is set to take place in Kraków (like last year), where the celebrity game will be played. After this, there will be nothing but work for Gortat, as he promised to join the Polish National Team in the preparations to the EuroBasket 2015 and the tournament itself, which will be held in France this September.

I leave you with some pixels from the festivities.

The Crew

Otto-Kids

Otto Karn MG

G-MAN

Bartosz Bielecki on Twitter
Bartosz Bielecki
Polish Correspondent at TAI
Bart is TAI’s Polish correspondent, covering all things Marcin Gortat from the mother country, including transcribing Gortat interviews with Polish media.